Analysis of a Picture Book--Where the Wild Things Are Essay

1307 Words Nov 23rd, 2011 6 Pages

Written and Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Picture books can have a very important role in a classroom, from elementary school through middle and even high school. They offer a valuable literary experience by combining the visual and the text. Maurice Sendak’s Caldecott Award winning book, Where the Wild Things Are, is a wonderful blend of detailed illustrations and text in which a young boy, Max, lets his angry emotions create a fantasy world.

Many fantasy books open with “Once upon a time…” Sendak, instead opens this book with the declarative statement, “The night Max wore his wolf suit…” In starting the story this way, he makes the reader believe what is going to happen.
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When Max arrives in the land of wild things, the features of the monsters at first glance might seem scary and overpowering. The creatures are large and have sharp horns, claws, and teeth. However, upon closer examination, other details are noticed that make the wild things seem much more agreeable. The wild things are all smiling and one of the wild things actually has “human” feet and another has female human hair. The text also emphasizes the creatures’ agreeable nature when Max stares into their yellow eyes without blinking and tells them to “BE STILL!” They become frightened and make Max the king of all wild things. Their deference to Max is apparent in the illustrations—bowing, eyes gazing downward or closed, submissive posture. Max now has complete control and declares “let the wild rumpus start!” The wild things are obeying the commands of a child, just as Max had obeyed the commands of his mother when he was sent to bed without any supper. The book’s climax on the next few pages is exemplified by the use of full-page illustrations, without text, of Max and the wild things celebrating their “wildness” together. An activity for younger children could be to create their own “wild thing” mask or paper bag puppets using paper, scissors, yarn, eyes, etc.

After the wild rumpus, Max sends the creatures
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